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NJPW ‘New Japan Cup’ Quarterfinals Preview & Predictions

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Eight possible winners remain in the 2018 New Japan Cup. There were two opening round upsets, Tomohiro Ishii falling to Michael Elgin, and 2016 winner, Tetsuya Naito, submitting to Zack Sabre Jr. Both Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kota Ibushi remain as the only previous winners of the tournament. The opening round proved anything is possible, adding even more unpredictability moving forward. I will try my best to do the improbable and correctly predict what we will see in this following round.

Michael Elgin (def. Ishii) vs Juice Robinson (def. Yujiro)
Both men made statement wins in the opening round, defeating big opponents for their respective roles within the company. Many were surprised when Elgin defeated dark horse favorite, Tomohiro Ishii, and were pleased, but not surprised, with Juice’s win over Yujiro. Over the last two years, the person who eliminated Ishii wound up winning the Cup so Elgin seems to be in store for a big tournament. Juice has worked his way up the card over the last year and a half but would feel like an upset if he were to defeat Elgin on this stage. Last year these two faced off during the G1 where Juice made one of many surprise wins. He is certainly capable of repeating the result but Elgin’s win over Ishii seems to me to be a big deal so while my heart wants Juice, my brain says Elgin.
Prediction: Michael Elgin

Hiroshi Tanahashi (def. Taichi) vs Bad Luck Fale (def. Archer)
Since Fale became a principle player in New Japan in 2013, he and Tanahashi have had numerous singles matches. Their G1 record currently stands at an even split of 2-2 while Fale holds a victory in their sole New Japan Cup meeting. Fale has shown he is certainly capable of beating Tanahashi on any given day but has lost their last two contests. Does this signify a shift back into Fale’s favor or is the Ace finally over the hump? We must keep in mind that Fale has made it to the Cup finals two times, mostly recently just last year. This is a match than go either way but both my heart and my brain are telling me not to go against the Ace.
Prediction: Hiroshi Tanahashi

Kota Ibushi (def. Y-H) vs Zack Sabre Jr. (def. Naito)
What a statement win for Sabre, submitting fan favorite, Naito. Ibushi on the other hand did what was expected and got past YOSHI-HASHI. Both Sabre and Ibushi have a career undefeated streak in the New Japan Cup, though Ibushi’s record of 5-0 is more impressive than Sabre’s 1-0. Their only other meeting, back at last year’s G1, saw Ibushi defeat Sabre. This is a really tough match for me to predict because Sabre’s win over Naito seemed very significant. Why would he follow up by losing to Ibushi? On the other hand, Ibushi has never lost a Cup match. This is a case of my brain being torn in two. When the brackets were announced I was sure Sabre was making it to the finals but I did not see him facing Ibushi. I’ll stick with my initial gut prediction but I’m really torn on this one.
Prediction: Zack Sabre Jr.

SANADA (def. Chuckie T.) vs Toru Yano (def. Smith Jr.)
The easiest match of the quarterfinals to predict which should tell me that it’s not going to turn out that way. I won’t overthink this though because each semifinal match will be separated onto a different show, both being the lone tournament match that night. I’m not sure they’d want that lone match to feature Yano. Despite how much the crowds love him, he’s not someone you can expect a traditionally great match out of like you can SANADA.
Prediction: SANADA

Robert McCauley hasn't missed an NJPW show since the launch of NJPW World. Always be on the look out for his reviews where he shares results and gives his honest opinions on the goings-on of New Japan Pro-Wrestling.

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